HEADLINERS: Dynamic duo to inject life into Associated’s Unique Solution - Can ex-colleagues Simon Barnes and Mike Anderson succeed?

The rumour mill went into overdrive last week when word got out that New PHD’s new-business director, Mike Anderson, was leaving. And his destination was even more surprising - Associated Newspapers’ merged contract publishing arm, likely to be called Unique Solutions in Publishing, where he is to join Simon Barnes as managing partner Anderson, after all, hadn’t been at New PHD for long. And contract publishing - well, it’s not somewhere you would naturally place him.

The rumour mill went into overdrive last week when word got out

that New PHD’s new-business director, Mike Anderson, was leaving. And

his destination was even more surprising - Associated Newspapers’ merged

contract publishing arm, likely to be called Unique Solutions in

Publishing, where he is to join Simon Barnes as managing partner

Anderson, after all, hadn’t been at New PHD for long. And contract

publishing - well, it’s not somewhere you would naturally place him.



But scratch beneath the surface and it’s not so surprising. Anderson,

one of media’s smoothest networkers, is returning to an old haunt, where

he once worked as head of client sales for the both The Mail on Sunday

(with Barnes) and the Evening Standard. A man always on the make,

Anderson leaves New PHD at a high point, after it was made Campaign’s

media agency of the year, to join a new set-up which he believes will

provide him with a great opportunity. ’This will be much more personal

and I can stay with it for longer. That’s where I want to be going. I

was rather unfulfilled as a new-business person - I think I’m a wee bit

brighter than that.’



As to why he’s leaving New PHD after a relatively short, but successful,

stint, Anderson says: ’The plan was to be at New PHD longer than 15

months, and I knew that it would be my last new-business job.



USP is the nearest thing to having your own business without the

pressure of worrying about how to pay next month’s rent.’



Industry observers suggest that Anderson didn’t feel totally at home

with New PHD’s leading lights and was frustrated by the close-knit

nature of the three partners. New PHD’s partners, meanwhile, were

slightly overwhelmed by Anderson’s aggressive new-business approach,

which sat well with CIA Medianetwork but was slightly at odds with New

PHD’s ethos.



Jonathan Durden, a managing partner of New PHD, is pragmatic about

Anderson’s departure. ’Mike’s discovered that he’d like to be an

entrepreneur. The opportunity to start something with Simon Barnes and

the resources of Associated Newspapers is too much of a pull. It’s a

life change.’



USP has been born out of the merger of The Mail on Sunday’s contract

publishing division, Contract Mail, launched in 1997, and the Evening

Standard’s operation, announced last year. Although many of us have

remained oblivious to their activities, both have slipped out products

here and there. Now it is hoped that the complementary chemistry of

Barnes and Anderson will propel Associated Newspapers’ contract

publishing to new and more prominent heights.



It is telling that Barnes, who hates publicity and avoids journalists’

calls, decided at short notice that he wouldn’t talk to Campaign about

USP. Instead, he thrust Anderson forward to give me the sales pitch. A

veteran of Associated, Barnes is not a political animal and is regarded

as an astute and clever operator.



’Simon’s never been a great self-publicist. He’s the best one-to-one

salesman you could ever meet. Mike gets on with everyone: he’s one of

the most affable people in media. Simon always has a front guy who does

the handshaking, backslapping and kissing the baby thing,’ an industry

source says.



Referring to Barnes’s complicated love life, another says: ’He’s a mine

of experience. For someone with an irrational personal life he is a very

rational person.’



When Barnes, former ad director of The Mail on Sunday, was appointed

managing director of Associated’s contract publishing division early

this year, there were whispers that this was a sideways move. But

according to Anderson, Associated’s first attempts at contract

publishing were initiated by Barnes, hence its birth out of the MoS

stable.



Anderson gives the impression that USP is bursting at its seams with

new-business prospects. He enthuses: ’Even me, Mr Positive Pete, is

saying, ’How are we going to do all of this?’ I’m amazed by the

response.’ He is determined that USP will not be sidelined within

Associated. ’We are not the partworks division of Associated Newspapers.

I want to talk to agencies about publishing magazines for their clients,

rather than their advertising in our magazine. Agencies have spent their

lives developing planning and buying. Media owners haven’t developed the

planner seller.’



Anderson believes that he will be able to harness Associated’s brands

into developing USP’s client proposition. ’The bit that’s cute is that I

could say, ’Why don’t we preview sections of a magazine in one of

Associated’s titles?’ I could do that. Now that is interesting - we have

access to one or all of the titles. It’s advertorial for grown-ups.’

Whether Guy Zitter, the managing director of the Daily Mail, would agree

is another thing, but the impression from industry muckers is that the

Barnes Anderson duo could talk their way into almost anything.



Barnes and Anderson have a will to succeed, apparent even when the

former started out as a car-washer in Cuffley and the latter sold fluffy

toys from his car boot in Scotland. Anderson’s thick Scottish accent

returns as he predicts: ’USP will be a very interesting wee company

which will grow into an interesting, less-wee company. The whole thing

puts fire in my belly. It’s a good place to be.’



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